P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Gurdwara commission wants DCs, SDMs shifted
Final list delayed till June 28
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 24
Taking defiance of its orders on petitions filed by three SGPC members as “insubordination”, the Chief Commissioner Gurdwara Elections has written to the Punjab Government to transfer the Deputy Commissioners of Amritsar and Gurdaspur besides initiating disciplinary proceedings against them.

The Gurdwara Commission has also recommended transfer of a couple of Subdivisional Magistrates in Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts connected with the conduct of gurdwara elections on July 11.

The Commission, sources said, would wait for the action the Punjab Government takes on its letter before taking up the matter with the Union Home Ministry. It wants the Punjab Government to initiate disciplinary proceedings for major penalty against the Deputy Commissioners of Amritsar and Gurdaspur under civil service rules.

“Defying a constitutional authority on election matters also constitutes an offence under election laws. But in such cases, a fine of a maximum of Rs 500, can be imposed on the erring officials,” sources in the Commission said, holding that “If such blatant insubordination and uncertainty continued for some time, the elections would be in jeopardy. The Commission is appointed by an Act of parliament and has constitutional sanctity. A few bureaucrats alone cannot hold the entire process to ransom.”

Under the Gurdwara Act, the election staff, including Deputy Commissioners, are treated on deputation with the Chief Commissioner Gurdwara Elections.

Developments during the past few days have brought to the open a confrontational path taken by part of the state bureaucracy against the Gurdwara Commission. One of the Deputy Commissioners refused to produce the relevant record before the Commission in the case of disqualified SAD candidates on “administrative grounds”.

Further, the Commission is also peeved at the Deputy Commissioners seeking advice from the Advocate-General of Punjab, as to whether they should appear and produce the record before the Gurdwara Commission over rejection of nominations by them.

Taking serious view of the act on the part of the Deputy Commissioners, the Commission issued them show cause notices as to why disciplinary action under civil service rules be initiated against them for “insubordination”.

The June 21 orders of the Commission notwithstanding, the returning officers refused to allot Shiromani Akali Dal symbols to Mr A.S. Pakhoke, Mr Sucha Singh Langah and Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan. As a sequel to this development, the Commission has also changed the date for publishing list of valid nomination papers for the July 11 polls to June 28. The list was otherwise to be published at 3 p.m. today.

Similarly, the list of polling stations, which was to be published on June 25, will now be published on June 29. The Gurdwara Commission reiterated that these changes will not alter the election schedule and polling will be held on July 11 as scheduled.

The Chief Commissioner Gurdwara Elections, Justice Jai Singh Sekhon, had in his order of June 21 set aside the orders of the returning officers of Amritsar and Gurdaspur about rejecting the nomination papers of Mr Pakhoke, Mr Langah and Mr Sekhwan.

While the SAD chief and the three candidates accused the Congress government of direct masterminding the rejection of their nomination papers, they went to appeal to the Commission against the orders. Things came to head this morning when the three Shiromani Akali Dal candidates — Mr A. S. Pakhoke, Mr Sucha Singh Langah and Mr Sekhwan — were refused Akali Dal symbols by their respective returning officers in Amritsar and Gurdaspur.

The issue was raised in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha today where the entire Opposition, including the Shiromani Akali Dal, termed it as “blatant interference of the Congress Government in religious affairs of the Sikhs”. The Dal leaders held that certain bureaucrats had taken to confrontational path with the Commission at the instance and backing of the government.


Pakhoke, Langah and Sekhwan denied symbols
SAD workers gherao SDM office
Tribune News Service

Tarn Taran, June 24
Shiromani Akali Dal workers gheraoed the SDM’s office for about four hours in protest against the denial of election symbols to SGPC officiating president Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke and former Akali ministers Sucha Singh Langah and Sewa Singh Sekhwan, here today.

Meanwhile, Shiromani Akali Dal President Parkash Singh Badal has decided to meet the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to seek his intervention to end the direct interference of the Punjab Government in the ‘affairs of the Sikh Panth’, particularly the SGPC elections.

The Deputy Commissioners-cum-District Returning Officers seem to be in a catch-22 situation due to separate fax messages, reportedly sent by the Punjab Advocate General and another by the Chief Gurdwara Election Commission. While the fax of the Advocate General opined that the authority of District Returning Officers could not be challenged by the commission, the second fax of the Gurdwara Election Commission said it was binding on the Deputy Commissioners to obey the directives of the commission. The fax of the Gurdwara Commission, while quoting Section 47-A, sub-section C of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, concluded that the ‘Deputy Commissioner as well as the Returning Officer (SDM) are on deputation with this commission. Hence they are directed to implement the orders of the commission.

The Gurdwara Commission has also directed the Returning Officers of Amritsar and Gurdaspur to declare the results of these constituencies.

The police force, led by DSP Jatinder Singh Mand, intervened and helped in averting the clash outside the SDM office when the supporters of Mr Joginder Singh Fauji, an SGPC candidate, raised counter-slogans against Mr Pakhoke and his supporters that ‘golak chor vapas jao’.

Earlier, the supporters of Mr Pakhoke ‘gheraoed’ the office of the SDM-cum-Returning Officer, Mr Bir Pal Singh, when the latter refused to allot election symbol to Mr Pakhoke. However, the situation came under control when the SDM told the agitating Akali workers that the process for displaying the list of contesting candidates had been stayed by the Chief Gurdwara Election Commission till June 28. The SDM had allocated symbols to some candidates earlier.

Similarly, Mr Amarjit Paul, SDM-cum-Returning Officer, Gurdaspur and Mr Jaspal Singh, District Development Officer-cum-Returning Officer, Dhariwal, told Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan and Sucha Singh Langh, both former Akali ministers, that symbols could not be allotted to them due to receiving of fax by the Chief Gurdwara Election Commission. Both the Akali leaders alleged that they were being harassed at the behest of the Congress Government and described this action as ‘direct interference in the affairs of the Sikhs’.


Sekhon acting at Badal’s behest, says Ravi Inder
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 24
Criticising the Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Elections, Justice J.S. Sekhon, for his recent decision to allow senior SAD leaders Alwinder Singh Pakhoke and Sucha Singh Langah to contest SGPC elections, the Panthic Morcha today said it would approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the order.

Addressing a press conference here, Panthic Morcha leader Ravi Inder Singh said they would meet the President to seek the removal of Justice Sekhon from the post for being biased.

He accused Mr Parkash Singh Badal of misusing SGPC machinery for the election campaign. “We are contesting elections to ensure proper utilisation of gurdwara funds for the spread of Sikhism,” he said.


Badal to meet PM on SGPC poll issue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 24
The President of the SAD, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today said that he had contacted the Prime Minister’s Office to seek an appointment with the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, tomorrow. He said he would take a delegation of Akali leaders to the PM to bring to his notice the interference in the SGPC elections by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, his associate, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, and others.

Addressing a press conference here today, he said the ruling party was not contesting the SGPC elections and thus it had no right to interfere in the elections. The ruling party wanted to place its “ agents” in Sikh religious places and wanted to capture Sikh religious places.

Mr Badal said that at present the government was making Deputy Commissioners to reject nomination papers of important Akali leaders contesting the SGPC elections and later it would ask them to declare results of the elections against the SAD candidates. He said the Deputy Commissioners were not obeying the orders of the Chief Commissioner for the Gurdwara Elections and doing what the government was asking them to do.

He said that he had taken up the matter with the Chief Secretary regarding the non allotment of election symbols to three SAD candidates. However, he said the SAD was expecting nothing from the Chief Secretary as he would also follow the government instructions.


SGPC election issue rocks Punjab Assembly
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 24
Non-allotment of election symbols to three SAD candidates for the SGPC elections in Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts today rocked the Punjab Assembly as Akali MLAs led by the leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today blocked the proceedings of the House by raising slogans against the government.

The House had to be adjourned twice the time first in the morning session at 12.45 p.m. and again at 4 p.m, well ahead of its scheduled closure in the evening session. The election symbols were to be allotted by 3 p.m. today. However, now the date for the allotment of the symbols has been extended to June 28, it is learnt.

The Congress MLA, Mr Sunil Jakhar, was speaking on the Budget, when around 12.50 p.m, Mr Badal moved into the House along with Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder and a few other Akali MLAs.

He immediately brought in the notice of the Deputy Speaker, Mr Birdevinder Singh, that the Deputy Commissioners under pressure from the State Government had instructed the returning officers concerned not to allot election symbols to three Akali candidates — Mr Alwinder Pal Singh Pakhoke, Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan and Mr Suchha Singh Langah.

He said that the candidature of all the three was upheld as valid by the Chief Commissioner Gurdwara Elections, Justice Jai Singh Sekhon, while rejecting as invalid the orders passed in this connection by the Deputy Commissioners concerned. Mr Badal said that non allotment of election symbols was a very serious matter and it was a murder of democracy. However, the Deputy Speaker, Mr Birdevinder Singh, who was in the Chair, said that the House had recorded Mr Badal’s protest with regard to the issue but he should take up the matter with the appropriate authority as the House had no jurisdiction on the issue.

However, Mr Badal said that it was a blatant interference of the State Government in the SGPC elections and it could lead to a “bloody situation” in the state.

Following this, Akali MLAs raising slogans moved to the well in the House, Mr Birdevinder Singh, adjourned the House till 1.30 p.m. When the House met again, Mr Badal, raising the issue requested the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, to intervene to save “democracy” in the State. The Speaker suggested that Mr Badal should move the call attention motion and he would send the same to the government to respond by 3 p.m. Mr Badal made it clear to the government that it should give a clear reply whether the symbols would be allotted or not. The government agree to give the reply.

It cooled the Akali tempers in the House for a while. Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, who has been acting as Parliamentary Affairs Minister in the absence of Chaudhary Jagjit Singh and Rana Gurmit Sodhi, Chief Whip of the Congress Legislature Party in the Assembly, established contact with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who was indisposed and resting at his official residence here.

At 2.30 p.m., the Speaker asked Mr Bajwa for the reply. However, Mr Bajwa said that he was awaiting a call from the Chief Minister. The Speaker adjourned the House till 3.30 p.m. When it met for the evening session, Mr Badal again raised the issue. In the meantime, Mr Bajwa rose to give reply from the government side. He said that the Government was not interfering in the election process in any manner. The Deputy Commissioners had passed the orders taking recourse to the law and the aggrieved parties could also take recourse to the law.

However, the answer did not satisfy Mr Badal. He was up on his feet again to say that the like “Angrej Sarkar”, the Punjab Government wanted to give possession of Sikh religious places to its “pitthus”. The Government was out to disturb the peace in the state.

After this, Akali MLAs again moved to the well in the House and started raising slogans. The Speaker asked them to go back to their seats but they continued to agitate. As the Akalis had been raising slogans at full pitch, Mr Lal Singh moved the resolution for passing the budget proposals. After that the House was immediately adjourned around 4 p.m., well ahead of its scheduled time. 


Budget proposals passed amidst Akali protests
Tribune News Service

Resolution passed

Amidst slogan shouting by SAD-BJP members, the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Thursday passed a resolution moved earlier by the Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra.

The resolution reads: ‘’This Assembly hereby resolves that a comprehensive and uniform legislation for the maintenance of clinical record in hospitals, nursing homes, dispensaries and consulting rooms as well as for medical audit in particular form to check unethical practices and irregularities and shortcomings in diagnostic procedure in these institutions should be regulated in the state of Punjab by Parliament by law’’.

Chandigarh, June 24
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha today passed the Budget estimate proposals for 2004-05, without the Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, able to reply to the two-day discussion on it.

This was because of the disruption of the proceedings of the House during the afternoon sitting, as SAD-BJP members, having trooped into the ‘well’ of the House, were protesting against the interference of the government in SGPC elections. Mr Lal Singh had presented the Budget proposals on June 21 and the discussion was to conclude with his reply today.

This was, perhaps, for the first time that the Finance Minister was unable to give a full reply. He spoke for just two minutes before calling for passing the Budget estimate proposals. In few sentences, Mr Lal Singh thanked those members who had supported the Budget proposals and said he had taken note of the suggestions of those members, as well, who had made constructive criticism of the Budget proposals.

To make himself heard, Mr Lal Singh had to raise his voice above the slogan shouting SAD-BJP members. Before he stood up to speak, he was seen consulting the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. Apparently, in the absence of the Leader of the House, Capt Amarinder Singh, the Treasury Benches were keen that the Finance Minister wrapped up his reply in just few sentences.

Amidst the din raised by the opposition, Mr Lal Singh announced special concession in registration fee to be charged from women, saying that the government had decided to charge from them one per cent less registration fee at the time of registration of all property deals. The existing registration fee on all property deals is 6 per cent, which has now been reduced to 5 per cent in the case of women.

The discussion on the Budget proposals, initiated by former Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, on Wednesday, seemed jinxed from day one itself. The Deputy Speaker, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, who was in the Chair on Monday, had to adjourn the House ahead of time because there were no speakers.

Mr Balwinder Singh Bhundar, who initiated the discussion and opposed the Budget estimate proposals, said Punjab had a top-heavy bureaucracy and police that was a drain on the state exchequer and needed to be pruned. Likewise, bureaucrats, who had headed loss-making public sector undertakings should be held accountable and action taken against them.

Mr Sunil Jakhar, supporting the Budget said that it was high time ‘’we all rise above petty politics and populism to save Punjab, which needed a knee-jerk push to rejuvenate the economy through broad-based resource mobilisation.

Others who spoke included Mr Des Raj Dhugga, Mr Raj Kumar Gupta, Mr Jasbir Singh Gill and Mr Gulzar Sing Ranike.


Singla accepts Badal’s challenge for debate on refinery
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 24
Accepting the challenge thrown up in the Punjab Assembly by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the ruling Congress party MLA, Mr Surinder Singla, today wrote to the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, that he was prepared for a debate with Mr Badal on the Bathinda oil refinery issue in the House or outside and even on television.

Mr Singla has requested the Speaker to arrange for the debate on the issue. He said Mr Badal was making wrong claims regarding the refinery. Speaking on the Budget, Mr Singla said the refinery project was brought by him to Bathinda. In fact, there was an exchange of allegations and counter-allegations between Mr Badal and Mr Singla.

Mr Singla said Mr Badal involved the PSIDC to block the installation of the refinery project at Bathinda. He said Mr Badal did nothing for the refinery project. Mr Badal alleged that Mr Singla was an “ agent” of a top business house that sabotaged the installation of the refinery.

Mr Singla said the terms and conditions settled by the SAD-BJP government with the Union Government for the installation of the refinery would have ruined Punjab.

The Speaker had to tell a few times to Mr Singla that he should concentrate on his speech on the Budget and avoid long pauses. Mr Singla said the Akalis had developed a phobia for the Congress. Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker, objected to certain observations made by Mr Singla regarding him in the House.


Fund scheme for MLAs not finalised
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 24
While replying to a question asked by the Congress MLA, Mr Randeep Singh Nabha, the Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, today said in the Punjab Assembly that the local area development fund scheme for MLAs had not been finalised yet. He said the Planning Department was examining the scheme.

Responding to Mr Randeep Singh’s query that the assurance was given by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in the House during the last session that under the scheme funds would be allocated to the MLAs for taking up development projects in their respective constituencies, Mr Lal Singh said that he would ask the authorities concerned to finalise the scheme at the earliest. About Rs 30 crore was required to implement the scheme, said Mr Lal Singh. He refused to give any time frame for implementing the scheme and also declined to allocate Rs 1 lakh for each constituency as token money to launch the scheme.” There would be no impact, in case the scheme was launched in such a manner”, he said, responding to a supplementary asked by Mr Manpreet Badal in this connection.

Dog bite cases

Responding to a question asked by Mr Balbir Singh Bath and Chaudhary Balbir Singh Miani, the Health Minister, Mr Romesh Chander Dogra, said that as many as 11538 cases of dog bites had come to the notice during the last financial year. He said that only one person had died because of dog bite. However, Mr Bath said the information was not correct as three persons had died in his constituency alone.

When Mr Bath asked whether any steps would be taken to take care of stray dogs, Mr Dogra said that he would ask the authorities concerned to take up the issue with the municipal committees and panchayats. He said that his department’s responsibility was only to administer anti-rabies injection to those bitten by dogs.


Jaksir issue raised in Assembly
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 24
In the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Akali MLA Manpreet Singh Badal today raised the issue of Lance Naik Jaskir Singh, who was declared a “deserter” by the Army during the Kargil war. It has now been established that Jaksir had not deserted but was kidnapped and taken as a prisoner of war by the Pakistan Army.

His letter, which was received by his family in Kot Bhai near Gidderbaha in Muktsar from the Rawalpindi jail, as reported in The Tribune today, confirmed that Jaksir was not a deserter but was held as a prisoner.

Mr Badal, who raised the issue during zero hour, said now that it had been established that Jaksir Singh, who had gone missing during the Kargil war in 1999, was not a deserter, the state government should take up the matter with the Centre and ensure that his family got all benefits. Steps should be taken to repatriate Jaksir Singh from Pakistan, he said.

The Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, said the point made by Mr Badal was well taken and the state government would be asked to take up the matter with the Ministry for External Affairs.


Inside Babudom
Punjab DGP recommends shifting of 11 SSPs
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 24
For complying with the directions issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court regarding the posting of non-cadre officers against cadre posts, the office of Punjab's Director-General of Police (DGP) has reportedly recommended the shifting of 11 Senior Superintendents of Police (SSPs).

In a proposal submitted to the Punjab Government, the DGP's office has reportedly suggested that the SSPs should be shifted to posts meant for Punjab Police Service (PPS) officers from posts to be occupied by IPS officers. The office has also recommended the posting of 20 IPS officers "to posts meant for them" from non-IPS posts.

The sources at Punjab Police headquarters reveal that the Home Department had earlier sent a communique to the DGP's office asking the authorities to send the proposal, along with names of officers that could be considered for fresh posting. The department had asked the DGP to act fast as the High Court had set June 30 as the deadline in the matter.

The issue of posting PPS officers against cadre posts has been a cause of friction between them and the IPS officers since long. The IPS officers have all along been claiming that successive governments in the state have been posting PPS officers on cadre posts. They had further contended that regular IPS recruits had, in turn, been relegated to non-cadre posts in the rank of SPs.

In fact, IPS officer Nilabh Kishore had filed an application before the High Court against the government. He had stated that the post of SP in the Chief Minister's security was a non-cadre post and he should not have been posted against it.

It may be recalled that the High Court had earlier asked the Punjab Government to decide representations and take appropriate action by June 30 on representations regarding the posting of IPS officers on cadre posts alone.

The directions were issued during the hearing of a petition filed by social organisation, Resurgence India. The issue had snowballed into a major controversy after Punjab's IPS Association, at its general body meeting held on March 27, had demanded that such postings should be immediately taken back.

The association members had also demanded that cadre posts should not be given to non-cadre officers. The minutes of the meeting were also sent to Punjab's Principal Secretary, Home Affairs, for appropriate action.


Wagah to have closed circuit cameras
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 24
Keeping in view the increase in the traffic on the Wagah border has been decided to install closed circuit cameras there. This will help keep a watch on the activities of visitors.

Mr G. S. Gill, Inspector-General, Punjab Frontier, talking to mediapersons at Subsidiary Training Centre of BSF at the Kharkan camp, near here, yesterday said that objection of Pakistan Rangers for removing the floodlights from the border had been rejected. The lights would continue.

Mr Gill said keeping in view the heavy increase in the smuggling of narcotics from Afghanistan to Pakistan, the Pakistan Government had taken a serious view in this regard. It had sought help from the Indian Government to stop the smuggling of narcotics. A joint operation by Pakistan and India would be launched to check this smuggling. A meeting of officers of the BSF and Pakistan Rangers was recently held in this connection. Mr A. K. Sloria, DIG, BSF, and Mr Sahimarzan, DIG Pakistan Rangers, participated.

He said 14 kg of narcotics had been seized by the BSF and three smugglers arrested and one was killed while he was trying to escape.

Children of Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Punjab and Pakistan who visit the border out of curiosity cross to the Pakistan or Indian territory, respectively, unintentionally had been arrested by both the countries. India had recently released eight Pakistani children whereas Pakistan had released one child only. It had also sent a list of 31 children who were under its detention. India was scrutinising the list and would get these children released from Pakistan.


Moga village thirsts for water
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 24
They paid from their pocket to get the water works repaired twice, but are still not getting a drop of potable water in their homes.

Residents of Bir Rouke village has been facing an acute drinking water crisis for the past 20 days. In addition power shortage forced a farmer to destroy his paddy crop spread over an acre of land.

Speaking to The Tribune, Sarpanch Joginder Singh said they had to fetch water from distant places on rehris and it was all due to want of repair at the local water works. A few months back the motor of water works got burnt and the villagers had collected around Rs 13,000 to get it repaired. Later, when the water works developed a snag again, they collected Rs 100 from each house of the village. He said the Public Health Department had not paid a single penny to the village panchayat so that the villagers’ money could be returned.

Villagers also alleged that the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Badhani Kalan subdivision had installed a large number of transformers and distributed excessive power lines, causing overloading, which led to frequent breakdowns in transformers and power crisis. Mr Joginder Singh said the canal water supply was also irregular, which was affecting the agriculture sector in the village. The scenario was no better in the residential areas as there were frequent unscheduled power cuts in the area.

Mr Malkiat Singh, residents and Mr Chamkaur Singh residents of the village, said they had staged a dharna and blocked traffic on the Moga-Barnala road last week, but to no avail. The villagers said they had also met the Deputy Commissioner in this connection. The DC had issued directions to the PSEB Xen (rural area) who further asked the SDO, Badhani Kalan, to look into the matter.

On the other hand, Mr Jeet Singh, a small farmer, had to destroy his paddy crop spread over an acre of land as the crop dried up due to power shortage. Mr Jeet Singh had limited resources and had arranged a motor for the paddy season with great difficulty. His mother said it caused him a loss of Rs 5,000.

However, denying the villagers’ allegations, the executive engineer of the PSEB, Mr P.S. Sangha said no new transformers were installed and power was being supplied on the existing infrastructure. He said acting on the villagers’ complaint the power lines were strengthened and 18 transformers of the village shifted from Bir Badhani to Bir Rouke and there was no complaint from their side after this.

The SDO, Public Health Department, Nihalsingh-wala, Mr Arvinder Kumar said the old water works could not be repaired now and a new had one to be installed. For this the panchayat would have to pass a resolution, after which the department would give them an estimate for new water works. The panchayat was required to submit 10 per cent amount of the estimated cost of the project, he added.

Regarding the money spent by villagers on water works, he said the panchayat had not taken the department’s permission before spending money for repair work, but they were still making efforts to reimburse the amount.


Govt decides to remit sentence of prisoners
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 24
For commemorating the quincentenary birth celebrations of Sri Guru Angad Dev, the Punjab Government has decided to remit remaining sentence of lifers "and to grant special remittance to prisoners convicted by the civil courts in Punjab and who are more than 70 years old and have undergone actual sentence of more than five years as on April 18". A detailed notification would be issued in "due course of time".

A spokesman of the Punjab Government said all cases were required to be sent to the Governor for his approval prior to the issuance of orders sanctioning remission of sentence. However, the benefits were not admissible in cases where "the sentence of death had been commuted into one of imprisonment for life either under Section 433 of the Code of Criminal Procedure or under Article 72/161 of the Constitution of India".

The other cases included, offences under Section 304, along with 347 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), besides offences under Section 304 with Section 375 of the IPC, along with offences under Section 302 / 304 of the IPC where the victim was a child under the age of 14.

It also included conviction under Section 120-B of the IPC in connection with the specified crimes. emission would not be given if the prisoner was involved in a ghastly murder, a double murder involving extreme brutality or if he was involved in a crime connected with terrorism in the state. Further included in the list were offences under Section 304 (B) of the IPC.

The spokesman added that the sentence would be remitted if the prisoner had maintained good conduct in the jail and had not committed any major offence within last three years or had not been involved in any crime either inside the jail or outside while on parole. The benefit would be allowed only if the prisoner — out on parole — surrendered in the jail in time on the expiry of the parole.


Farmer, labourer killed as pit caves in
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 24
A farmer and his labourer are suspected to have been killed after a rescue attempt to dig them up from under 40 feet of earth could not succeed till late this evening.

The farmer and the labourer were buried under nearly 40 feet of earth when the earth caved in around them when they were assisting in the repair of a tubewell motor. Earlier, a mechanic had also been down in the pit with them but he came out a few minutes before the pit caved in.

The incident occurred at around 7 a.m. today. Earlier in the day Bhupinder Singh had got a mechanic to repair his motor. Both of them descended into the pit in which the motor was installed 40 feet below along with the mechanic. A short period after the mechanic came out and the other two men were also about to ascend the pit caved in.

Sources said the pit had been dug up in two stages. They said while the 20 feet deep pit close to the ground did not cave in, the deeper one caved in trapping the men. The sources said the mechanic raised the alarm and people gathered at the spot to start rescue operations. While farmers bought their tractor-trollies to the spot, later the administration also joined the rescue operations by putting three JCB machines into service. Officials from the district administration also reached the spot to supervise the operations.

However, till late in the evening, the rescue operation remained unsuccessful with the rescuers failing to reach the trapped men. The sources said the rescue team was within a few feet of the men when this report was filed late in the evening.

Bhupinder Singh leaves behind his wife and a son and a daughter while details about the family of the labourers identified as Raju were not known. Meanwhile, a similar incident was reported from Saleempur Jattan in Dakal yesterday. A 25 year old youth, Rulda Ram, was buried alive when he descended a similar pit to conduct repairs on the motor installed in the pit. Though Rulda was brought out he succumbed to his injuries.


12 labourers fall ill after taking food
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 24
As many as 12 labourers were taken ill after they consumed dinner last night. The labourers, all of whom were working in the fields of a farmer at Bibipur village in Samana subdivision, were brought to Government Rajindra Hospital here today in the afternoon in an unconscious state.

According to police sources, the labourers were engaged in paddy transplantation at Bibipur village and were staying in a room built near the tubewell of former village sarpanch Dalwinder Singh. The sources said one of the labourers, Jatinder Shah, had made the food last night which consisted of rice and dal.

Dalwinder Singh said when he sent another labourer to wake up the men he came to know that they were not getting up. This made him rush to the spot. The former sarpanch said a few of the men tried to stand up on their feet but fell down. Following this they were bundled into a tractor-trailer and taken to the hospital here.

Doctors said all were responding to treatment and were stable.

The police during the preliminary investigation has not found any trace of foul play in the incident as the person who prepared the food is also unconscious. The police has decided to take samples of the food.


Case sought against P.K. Industries’ owner
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 24
The District Manager, Punjab State Warehousing Corporation, Moga, has asked the Senior Superintendent of Police to register a case against Mr Hukam Chand Chhabra, proprietor of M/s P.K. Industries, under Sections 406, 409 of the IPC for misappropriation of paddy.

The District Food and Supply Controller, Food and Supplies Department had allotted M/s P.K. Industries, Moga, 12,100.40 quintal paddy for milling. Against the said paddy stored with the miller, they were required to deliver 8,026.20 quintals rice of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) in the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation (PSWC) account for the Central pool. But, they misappropriated 1,558.89 quintal rice, causing a loss of Rs 14,45,418 to PSWC. The SSP, Mr M.S. Chhina, has directed the Economic Offences Wing to probe into the matter and submit a report within seven days.


Assault victim dies

Hoshiarpur, June 24
Kuldip Singh (34) of Jahan Khelan village succumbed to his injuries at the PGI in Chandigarh last evening. He was seriously wounded when five or six persons attacked him with sharp- edged weapons on the night of June 19. His body was brought to the village for cremation in the afternoon. — OC


High Court
‘Sangrur SSP demanded Rs 1 lakh for boy’s release’
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, June 24
The family of a young man has leveled serious allegations of corruption and misconduct against top police officers of Sangrur district, including the Senior Superintendent of Police.

In a habeas corpus filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Sat Pal Gupta, a businessman of Sangrur, has alleged that his son, Pankaj Kumar, was picked up by the police on the charge that he was involved in gambling.

On going to the police, the family was told that Pankaj had been picked up on the orders of Sangrur Senior Superintendent of Police Gurinder Singh. Later, the family allegedly paid Rs 1 lakh to Darshan Singh, in charge of Police Station, Sangrur City, and got Pankaj released.

On June 19, Pankaj was again summoned to the police station where he was immediately detained.

Later, he was shifted to the CIA Staff office, Bahadurgarh. When the family members approached the in charge of the CIA Staff, Bahadurgarh, they were told that Pankaj was being detained there on the orders of the SSP. When the family went to the SSP, they were allegedly told by the said officer to pay Rs 1 lakh more or he would get their child booked in some false cases.

However, this time, the family refused to accept the demand and instead filed a petition in the High Court.

On June 22, the High Court appointed a warrant officer to visit the place and get Pankaj released. On reaching the spot, the warrant officer found Pankaj but found no record of any case having been registered against him. However, the cops later brought some record to show that Pankaj had been booked.

Today, during hearing, Mr Justice Surya Kant of the Punjab and Haryana High Court took a serious note of the allegations against the officers, including the SSP. While issuing notice to the respondents, the Judge also observed that the petition contained serious allegations against the officer. The case will now come up on July 7.


Kharar MC retrieves prime land worth Rs 3 crore
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 24
The Municipal Council took possession of about 5 acres of land, worth about Rs 3 crore, amid protest by those being evicted, here today.

The illegally occupied land measuring 38 kanals and 14 marlas fell in Mundi Kharar village, near here. It is within the municipal limits, Earlier, on March 19 the civic body had retrieved about 7 acres of land, worth about Rs 1.5 crore, falling in Khanpur and Aaujlan villages.

The possession of the retrieved land today was handed over to the Executive Officer of the civic body, Mr Jagjit Singh Sahi by the Tehsildar, Mr Baljinder Singh. Thereafter, the civic body got the area fenced and put up a board stating that the land belonged to the council and entry into the area was prohibited.

The operation to take possession of the land started around mid-day and lasted for more than two hours. A number of persons, including women and children, protested against the move of the civic body. Some women even tried to obstruct the eviction process. The police officials present during the operation told the protesters that a case would be registered against them if they tried to obstruct the work that was in progress. Even children were seen wielding wooden planks.

Upholding the order of the lower court issued on May 10, 2002, the Ropar Deputy Commissioner, Mrs Seema Jain, while exercising the powers of Commissioner, dismissed the appeal filed on behalf of Ms Lachhmi Devi, widow of Ram Bhaj, Mr Karam Singh, Mr Harnek Singh and Mr Bahadur Singh, sons of late Ram Bhaj.

Mrs Jain stated in the order that after hearing both the parties and going through the record, she had come to the conclusion that appellants were in illegal possession of the land in question as they had miserably failed to produce any documents in token of having deposited the “Chakota” money. There was no ground to interfere in the lower court order since it had been passed as per the provisions of the Act.

An eviction notice was issued by the SDM-cum-Collector, Mr Sukhvinder Singh Gill, on June 22. In the notice Mr Gill had stated that the council was authorised to take possession of the land at Mundi Kharar as it had been illegally occupied. A copy of the eviction notice had also been sent to the Tehsildar to take necessary action in this regard and to the DSP to provide police help while taking possession of the land.

A case in connection with the disputed land had been going on for the past many years. The counsel for the respondents had argued that the land in question was in unauthorised possession of appellants who were served a notice under Section 4 of the Punjab Public Premises Act. But the appellants were adamant not to vacate the land in question. As per the revenue record the land belonged to the council. The appellants had failed to pay “chakota” money for the past about 12 years and as such they were in unauthorised possession of the land.

However, the appellants had prayed that they had taken the suit land on “chakota” since 1975 from the respondent and had installed a tubewell which was being operated with diesel engine. Two rooms had also been constructed and a power meter installed in the name of late Ram Bhaj and the appellants were his legal heir. They had been in continuous possession of the land.

Mr Charanjit Singh, president of the Municipal Council, said that a proposal to reserve the retrieved land for a housing colony would be put up for discussion at the next monthly meeting of the civic body. He thanked the administration for providing the required support for taking possession of the land.


Admn draws up disaster plan to tackle quakes
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 24
Even as the administration has chalked out a District Disaster Plan and geared up itself to meet any exigency in the wake of an earthquake in the high-risk upper Punjab area, falling in Zone IV, some recent small-intensity tremors in the zone, particularly in and around New Delhi, have generated curiosity and agencies among officials who manage earth-quakes, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Some districts of Punjab, including Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur and Ropar, fall in a Zone IV, which is a high-risk seismic zone.

Jalandhar and Amritsar districts of the zone have been included in the list of 38 high-risk cities of the country, prepared recently under the Urban Earthquake Vulnerability Reduction Project, initiated jointly by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the UNDP keeping in view the sensitive nature of these two cities from an earthquake point of view.

Amritsar has a population of about 19 lakh, followed by Jalandhar with about 12 lakhs and these two cities along with other major cities of Punjab, falling in Zone IV, are more vulnerable due to lack of planning and lack of earthquake-resistant buildings and infrastructure.

Talking to TNS Mr Ashok Gupta, Deputy Commissioner, said the District Disaster Plan had been chalked out to help people in a systematic manner in the wake of a disaster like an earthquake.

“We have already prepared an exhaustive evacuation plan in case there is an earthquake and earmarked safer places where people could be shifted in a minimum possible timeframe during and after an earthquake. Besides, we have also made arrangements for providing medical help to the injured and the ailing in wake of such a disaster,” said Mr Gupta.

He further said that the purpose of the entire project and the plan was to ensure maximum community involvement in risk and disaster management. “We have tied up with a number of NGOs, government departments, clubs and the civic body to minimise the risk of a disaster. With the help of the NGOs, we have tried to involve people at the level of mohalla by holding ‘nukkad’ meetings, which saw participation by adults and children as well to make people aware about the risks of a disaster like an earthquake and its management,” said Mr Gupta.

On the other hand, Ms Mrinal Mathur, a representative of the UNDP, maintained that there was no need to panic.

“Generally, the low-intensity tremors are considered to be good for their capacity to keep bigger quakes at bay by releasing the built-up energy in a phased manner, but, sometimes, these pre-shocks are an indication of a full-fledged quake. These five or six low-intensity tremors have caused concern among observers, even as there is nothing to panic,” said Ms Mathur.

Asserting that earthquakes could not be predicted, Ms Mathur said the objective of the UNDP was to minimise the loss by way of making people aware about the threat perception and the available solutions and safeguards.


Octroi evasion: DC orders probe
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, June 24
Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner of Faridkot, today marked an inquiry to Mr Vijay Gupta, Executive Officer of the local Nagar Council, with regard to the alleged evasion of octroi by local contractors.

The Deputy Commissioner has taken this action following a written complaint filed by the Nagar Council president, Mr Gurcharan Singh Gill, in this connection. He levelled charges against the contractors for committing various irregularities during the issuing of octroi slips to the different persons allowing entry of their goods to the town. The president alleged that he and two other employees of the council conducted a raid on different octroi posts on June 20 and seized duplicate copies of the fake slips from the employees of the contractors issued by them to various persons, thus causing a heavy financial loss to the council.

Presenting photostat copies of the fake slips along with his complaint to the Deputy Commissioner, the council president charged the contractor with not only violating the norms of the Municipal Act but also the agreement signed by them with the council.


Special check of weighing scales conducted
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 24
A special team constituted by Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, today checked nine weighing scales in Mandi Gobindgarh and out of these five were found faulty. All these five weighing scales were sealed and fine worth Rs 28,000 was imposed on them.

In a press release here today, Mr Ahluwalia, mentioned that he had been getting regular complaints about the fraud being committed by certain weighing scale owners with the customers. He said he had constituted a special team consisting of Jagwinderjit Singh, Assistant Commissioner (T), Harpal Singh Assistant Controller, Patiala division and Vijay Kumar, Inspector, Weight and Measure.

He said the team checked nine weighing scales and detected fraud being committed by Janta Computer Kanda, GT Road, Raghav Computer Kanda, Dharm Mill Road, Steel Bhodey Kanda, Amloh Road, Surindra Steel Dharm Kanda, Amloh Road, and Avery Electric Kanda. He said it was noticed that the weighing scale, where the goods were weighed and sent outside for sale used to weigh excess, where as kandas where the goods were weighed for own use used to weigh less.

He said the customers were not getting proper weight and the variations in the weights were as per the whims of the owners.


One injured in fight over shamlat land, 6 booked
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Khadadpura (Samana), June 24
A fight broke out over possession of shamlat (common) land here today, with the aggressors seriously wounding one person and continuing to fire after the arrival of the police.

The 70-kanal land is situated on the outskirts of the village. An extended family of brothers who reside in farmhouses nearby formed a circle and started firing at members of the panchayat who were trying to prevent them from ploughing the land.

“The police saved the situation by arriving within minutes of the start of firing”, said former village sarpanch Balbir Singh Dhanoa. He said Samana DSP Jaspreet Singh Sidhu reached the spot within 5 or 10 minutes of the start of the firing. He claimed that this did not deter the aggressors. Villagers said around 8 or 10 persons were rounded up by the police, but this could not be confirmed.

A villager, Palwinder Singh, was injured seriously when he was shot in the leg. He was brought to the Government Rajindra Hospital here, from where he was referred to the CMC in Ludhiana. The police registered a case of attempt to murder and under different sections of the Arms Act against six persons — Devinder Singh, Jagdeep Singh, Kuldeep Singh Laddi, Vijay Singh, Kulwant Singh and Bhagwant Singh Laddi.

The common village land has been a source of conflict in this village since 1999. The land was then claimed by Hansraj, who owns nine acres adjoining it. In 1999 the village panchayat leased the land to Randhir Singh, who complained to the district administration that Hansraj had been harassing him. Hansraj had then claimed that the land had been allotted to him and it should be permanently registered in his name. The village panchayat and Hansraj were involved in litigation over the land.

In May, Hansraj gave power of attorney of the land to five persons — Varinder Singh, Jatinder Singh, Jagdeep Singh, Jaswinder Singh and Bhagwant Kaur. They said the land was registered in their name the same day.

Villagers claimed that as the sale deed had been contested by the village panchayat, the other party should not have been in a hurry to take over control of the land. They said the sale deed had been challenged and the Patiala Deputy Commissioner had asked revenue officials to file a report on the issue. Mr Dhanoa claimed that the land was still under the control of the village panchayat and this had been proved during revenue inspections.

Sources said the case was still pending in the court of the Financial Commissioner, Revenue. The next date of hearing had been fixed for July 28.


Another dowry death, in-laws booked
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 24
Ms Baljit Kaur, a resident of Kothe Chappri Wale village and mother of one and a half years old son, was allegedly strangulated to death by her husband Gurmail Singh and his two brothers, mother and sister-in-law last evening. The lust of more dowry is said to be the cause of the crime.

Police sources said Baljit Kaur, who was married about three years ago, was murdered as she could not arrange for more dowry. She had been allegedly tortured by her in-laws since the day she got married.

Sources added that though Baljit’s brother Gurwinder Singh had been trying to fulfil their demands, the accused had been making new demands everyday.

In a complaint lodged to the police, Mr Gurwinder Singh alleged that the accused were mercilessly beating up and abusing his sister when he went to her house yesterday.

Sometime after he left her house, he got the message that his sister was not well. When he came back, he found her lying dead on the cot.

A case in this connection had been registered against Gurmail Singh, husband of deceased, Gurmeet Singh and Gurtej Singh, his brothers, Angrej Kaur, his mother, and Sukhjit Kaur, his sister-in-law under Sections 304 B and 506 of IPC in Nahian Wala police station.

In another case, the Nahian Wala police has seized 1 kg of opium from Dilbagh Singh, who was working as special Police Officer (SPO) in General Railway Police (GRP). The accused was arrested at a special naka laid near Balhar Vinjhu village yesterday.


3 booked for murder
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 24
The Nahianwala police has registered a case against three residents of Kothe Chappriwala village of this district for their alleged involvement in the murder of Surjeet Singh, which took place a few days ago.

Police sources said the case was registered against Binder Singh, Gokal Singh and Kikar Singh under Sections 304, 201 and 34 of the IPC on the complaint of Mrs Kulwinder Kaur, wife of the deceased, after the body was recovered from the village pond today.

The sources added that Mrs Kulwinder Kaur, in her complaint lodged with the police, said her husband had been murdered by the three suspects and after murdering her husband, they had destroyed the body. After the complaint was lodged by Mrs Kulwinder Kaur, the police was trying to trace the body. Today, it was found floating in the village pond.

The sources added that no arrest had been made in this connection so far. The body had been cremated in the presence of prominent residents of the village.


Woman poisoned by in-laws, 4 booked
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 24
The police has registered a case against four persons after a woman was allegedly poisoned by her in-laws at Dharamkot here. Those booked included her husband, who works at the local SSP’s office, her father-in-law, who is a retired police Inspector, and two women members of the family.

Police sources said Mr Gurcharan Singh, a resident of Shehjadi village in Ferozepore district, had stated in his complaint that his daughter, Ms Karamjeet Kaur, was married to Mr Gaganjeet Singh, son of former police Inspector Iqbal Singh, about 12 years ago. After some time, her in-laws started harassing her for dowry and she was regularly tortured, he added. The complainant said that when Ms Karamjeet Kaur expressed her helplessness in bringing dowry, her in-laws poisoned her.

Ms Karamjeet Kaur was rushed to Dayanand Medical College, Ludhiana, after her condition deteriorated. The sources said, in her statement before doctors, Ms Karamjeet Kaur said her in-laws had poisoned her. Mr Gurcharan Singh also alleged that when Ms Karamjeet Kaur died, her in-laws abandoned her and the hospital staff informed them about her death.


Chowkidar’s quarters set on fire
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 24
Robbers entered the living quarters of a chowkidar working with the PWD Hostel on the Nabha road last night and decamped with a television set, tape recorder and other goods. They set fire to the quarters before fleeing.

The government quarters was being occupied by Sant Ram who is working as a chowkidar in the PWD Hostel. He was away to UP along with his wife. The chowkidar’s two daughters were staying at the residence of a family friend — Balbir Singh in Ranjit Nagar.

Ranjit Singh said he came to know about the robbery at 5 am and went to the site. He said he extinguished the fire which was still smouldering along with other neighbours.


Satta operators arrested
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 24
The district police has arrested satta operators in various towns of the district. The arrested have been booked under Sections 13, 3, 67 of the Gambling Act.

Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, said the arrested persons were Charanjit Singh, Nirmal Singh, Narinder Singh Nindi, Vikas Kumar alias Vicky, Resham Singh, Rajesh Kumar, Gian Chand, Ajay Gupta Yashmeen, Mandeep Singh, Sandeep Kumar, Satnam Singh, alias Satta, and Raju. The police has recovered cash and satta slips from their custody.

He said during interrogation, Raju said that he had been forced by Ismail, a satta operator of the area, to work as a agent for him in the Sirhind area, as he had taken a loan of Rs 30,000 from him for the marriage of his sister. He said Raju had been doing the job of agent for the past four months and had returned about Rs 15,000. He said that a case had also been registered against Ismail.


B Tech counselling begins at PTU
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 24
Electronics and communications engineering remained a favourite branch among the BTech aspirants who came to attend the CET counselling, which began at PTU here today, for admission to Punjab Technical University, Punjabi University and Guru Nanak Dev University.

Nearly 2,000 candidates appeared for counselling for admission to the seats reserved for those applying through the Sikh minority quota and the rural quota in three affiliated colleges of the university, including Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, Ludhiana, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College, Fatehgarh Sahib, and the Yadwindra College of Engineering, Guru ki Kashi campus, Talwandi Sabo.

All the seats in the two quotas of the electronics branch in the three colleges were filled by noon. From the trend of filling of seats in various branches, mechanical engineering seemed to be the second choice of the students, followed by electrical engineering. Information technology, however, remained one of the last choices of many aspirants seeking admission in the PTU colleges.

The university authorities, however, deferred the counselling of students trying for admission to 15 per cent seats reserved for those coming from outside Punjab to August 1. Dr M.S. Grewal, Registrar, said that while the Punjab Government had notified that such seats be filled on the basis of performance of the students in the CET, conducted by the PTU, the UGC had sent its directions that the seats be filled on the basis of the rank attained in the All-India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE). He said the two separate directions had caused confusion and a final decision in this regard would be taken soon.

Dr Grewal said the counselling for admission to the seats reserved for students from the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes would be held tomorrow.


Students hold dharna at PTU
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 24
Demanding another chance for compartment and failed cases, students of BBA and BCA of various affiliated colleges of the Punjab Technical University (PTU) have started a dharna on the campus.

Students of the 2000, 2001 and 2002 batches, who had got compartments in various subjects or had failed in two chances of examinations, have long been demanding a mercy chance. The PTU has, rejected their plea.

Dr M.S. Grewal, Registrar, said the university authorities were helpless in their case, as they had already been given two extra chances to clear their subjects. He said that the students had even tried to present their case before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, but their plea had been rejected.


Priyanka adjudged best camper
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 24
Priyanka of the local DAV College was adjudged the best camper in the Youth Leadership, Hiking and Trekking camp of Guru Nanak Dev University which concluded at Dalhousie yesterday.

As many as 106 girl students drawn from 14 colleges of the university attended the eight-day camp. Dr Rajesh Anand, Joint Secretary, University Grants Commission, presided over the valedictory function and gave away the prizes.

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